Have you met someone who “eats nothing” and still can’t lose weight? Have you ever thought that about yourself?
This is one of the great conundrums of the weight loss world. Quite regularly, I will meet people who insist that they really don’t eat very much and yet are unable to shift the pounds.
Is this even possible?
In my experience, people fit into 4 groups:
Some kind of medical problem that means a very slow metabolism (This is actually rarer than you would think)
People who think they eat very little, but when you examine their food diary over a longer period of time, you realise that actually they do eat more than they thought they did.
(this is the vast majority of people)
Some people have a food diary that looks like they are eating very little and over a month of keeping their food diary they start losing weight.
In other words, they started eating less when they started keeping the food diary. And hence they lost weight. (So they previously weren’t eating as little as they thought they were)
I have very occasionally seen people who have shown me food diaries that showed that they were eating very little and yet they were not losing weight… How is this possible?
How it Might Appear That You Eat Nothing But Still Can’t Lose Weight
But even when I see a food diary where it looks like they’re not losing weight despite doing all the right things, I have to remind myself of 4 things:
1. I have never seen more than a couple of weeks of food diary of people like this. It is definitely possible to eat very little for 2 weeks and not lose weight.
But on the other hand it is much harder to eat very little for 2 months and not lose weight. If they had continued for longer, perhaps they would have actually been shown to be in group 3.
2. Evidence shows that most food diaries are not accurate. For most people what they eat and what they write down might vary by 10-30%. But of course for others it might be much more than that.
3. Remember, simply the act of keeping a food diary makes people eat less. Was the couple of weeks of food diary that I saw truly representative of their overall food intake? (as with group 3)
4. Some clients seem to be eating very little most of the time, but it is the “unusual” occurrences that tend to be the problem.
The two vacations over the last year, where they eat much more than usual, are enough to cancel out all the good work at home.
Just think, if you gain 1 pound every time you go away, and you go away three times a year, that’s 3 pounds a year more you will be carrying (and an extra stone after 5 years).
These people can easily fool themselves into thinking “I am so careful about what I eat” and yet there is a clear reason for why they are gaining weight.
So what’s the take-home message from this?
If you think that you’re eating very little and still not losing weight, the answer is to:
1. Keep track of exactly what you eat (with a food diary)
2. Getting someone to look at your food diary.
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